Clocker’s Corner

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 4, 2011 in Educational Articles, General Discussion | 2 Comments >>

Todd Pletcher Looks at Stopwatch

Trainer Todd Pletcher checks his stopwatch after a workout

The best place to catch the workouts was at this little area near the finish line. The coffee was hot, the conversation cool, and the runners were getting ready. It was the first place where plans were laid, and fortunes were made.

The clocker has multiple stopwatches, and a radio. They usually get high on the steps up from the finish line. They can see the whole track, and then get a call…. “Joe Rockhead has Chewy Slew going 3f, and they will break off at the half and go three to the wire. Yellow saddle cloth, and rider in green jacket.” After the work, they write down the time and prepare for the next. They come like bees from a hive, and the action must be watched closely to be accurate.

This can come from the top of the stretch as runners enter the track, and the radio travels through the fog like a beacon. Sometimes it is dark, and this can be tough to see for tracks with no lights. The fog gets thick in the morning, and you will hear hoof sounds a half mile away, like a train that is coming right toward you. It is magical, and for the new fan or someone who does not like racing, one trip is all that it takes.

For a big race week, there will be media folk in their spots, ready to catch the action of the “big horse” getting fit. They study their every move like watching a dancer prepare. The beauty in the morning is special. The quiet is only broken by the sound of a young rider sliding through the darkness along the rail, chirping to his mount to get him to give more. Some move and dance along the outside rail, and canter under a stiff hold.

If you live near a track or training facility, make the time to go and watch. Go as early as you can, and try┬áto be there before the sun rises high. Many tracks are having a “photo day” or a “breakfast at the downs” type event. This gets you right close to the action, and it will be a day that you will enjoy. The conversation is invigorating, and the coffee is hot… The only thing that needs to be added is you.